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Peterlock

Gallons Per Hour And Other Fairy Tales

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A while back Alistairw and I had a discussion via posts about filter flow rates and the GPH ratings touted by manufacturers.

We were entirely in agreement that that manufacturers outrageously inflate these claims to sell more product. As an example we talked about Aquaclear specifically the 110 and it's advertised flow rate of a whopping 500 GPH.

A friend of mine who keeps an abundance of large tanks from Fancy Goldfish to Live Rock and Saltwater has high end equipment and she's tested the flow rates of countless filters.

I had quoted her as getting a reading of 150 GPH on the Aquaclear 110 but I was mistaken.

During a recent conversation the flow rate she recalled was 52 GPH - and that was without any media - so 10% of the advertised claim.

But this news shouldn't come as a surprise.

If you consider the size of the pump on an eheim Pro 1200 XL this monster filter is made for tanks up to 320 gallons and has an adjustable flow rate up too 450 GPH - 50 gallons less than that tiny, fit in the palm of your hand little pump that runs the Aquaclear.

The Diatom XL with it's lawnmower style top mounted pump capable of cleaning and polishing the water in multiple tanks has a GPH up too 400. Anyone who has ever owned any of these large canister filters or lifted off the pump knows just how solid and heavy they are.

The question remains why do companies get away with making such outrageous claims? The answer is simple - because they can.

Advertising and marketing is a slippery slope, it's been my career for decades and I've had my eyes opened more than once. I can tell you that an average bottle of perfume or cologne has a manufacturing price point of under $2.00 and all of it with the exception of a few pennies goes into packaging - because that's what sells.

The cost of the contents in the bottle is insignificant. (with very few exceptions)

This same scenario plays out in just about everything we buy. It's all about commerce and making a profit - and that's fine when we're talking about inanimate objects. But it isn't fine when we're talking about living beings like the fish that we love and nurture.

Anyone who's read my post on commercial Dog food - knows how much I despise it. Out of thousands of brands there are 14 considered safe and healthy for your dog But at least commercial pet food has someone to answer too and the consumer someone to get the facts from and or file a complaint with and that's AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)

When it comes to aquaria - we're on our own.

Not only isn't there a single regulatory agency or organization that manufacturers must comply with. Nor is there a single organization to protect the consumer.

Research is sparse to say the least.

According to the APPA (American pet products association) 11.9 million households have a freshwater aquarium. Roughly half are estimated to own two or more aquariums. So it would be fair to say the number of fish tanks in American households would be over 20 million.

Considering the cost of setting up and maintaining a single tank for say, one year - it's easy to see how Aquatic Pet Supply has become a multi Billion dollar industry.

Most of the electrical components are considered appliances. Yet very few are even UL listed.

And none to my knowledge are energy efficient certified - so much for the credibility on wattage and cost of use.

As far as flow rates you need a professional flow rate meter to get an accurate reading.

The little plastic flow meters you can buy for $30-$50 which are either plumbed in or connected between your out take hose are notoriously inaccurate and limited to what is little more than a guess at GPH up to a limit of 250 GPH at most.

Air bubbles and particulate matter even those that can't be seen with the naked eye will distort any readings from these types of devices.

I've often thought of buying one but glad I didn't. Especially now that I've made a few calls and done a bit of research and finally understand just how a flow rate is calculated.

A good flow rate meter will have transducers that attach to the output pipe or tubing. These transducers send sound waves through the flowing water and back to the meter. The meter converts the speed the sound waves travel through flowing water into data that gives you your GPH.

The cost of these instruments is prohibitive to say the least. The Innova-Sonic 205i by Seirra Instruments sells for $5,198 and they told me it was their most popular unit.

If you're not in the business of testing flow rates this proably wouldn't be a good investment. But if you just happen to have that kind of change laying around to play with please buy on and let me borrow it.

The only answer I see for ensuring the quality of products from the food we feed our goldfish to the filters that clean their water is regulation - and therein lays the rub.

Companies that want their claims substantiated have much to gain from regulation. For example that stamp of approval from the FDA gives us, the consumer a sense of confidence and it helps to sell more product.

When we buy food we like to know what we buy has the stamp of approval from the USDA.

Companies who've built their business on misinformation and outright lies want no part of regulation. Because that would expose every false claim and lie. Or they would be forced into spending money upgrading the quality of their products to meet their claims - and that's probably what they fear most.

So what to do?

I think it's what most of us do already. Listen to others who we trust, research and research more and finally make the best choices we can using the information we have available.

Goldfish are mysterious and complex, there are no iron clad rules a mere handful of experts - and an overwhelming number of self proclaimed experts.

Goldfish lovers differ on every issue you can think of from how many fish to a tank, to PH, to using aquarium salt, to treating illness. You pick an issue and without question you'll find two opposing camps - guaranteed.

And I think that's a good thing. It lets us - as hobbyists cherry pick the information that makes sense to us. In doing so we find out what works best for both ourselves and the fish we love.

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Interesting, thanks for posting! :)

Edited by Narny105

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I had been researching canister filters before purchasing one recently and wondered why some of these monsters didn't seem to pump much moe GPH than the HOBs with such large motors. Now it makes perfect sense. I wonder about some of the internals now, such as Flugals. I have about decided to go with canisters in my larger tanks. I am very pleased with the one I have got and it is rated at 265 gph. Much better than the HOB I had that was rated at 300.

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Great post :thumb:

Man, first it was the tanks them selfs now its the flow rate. One reason I try to get the highest flow rate I can with out harming the fish...

Lies all lies these companies :o

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Great read. I always wondered how those tiny filters could be more powerful than a large canister. Guess you cannot believe all that you read on the box!

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Thanks for the article, Peter :)

It's important to note here that when we do gph calculations of filters to determine suitability for our tanks, we always go by the theoretical flow rate and not the actual. To me at least, this is a just a proxy to determine capacity of the filter chamber etc. If you follow with the 10x rules for HOB and the at least 5x rule for canisters, it has worked out pretty well. :)

In the end, we will always have to check to see if our filters are doing their jobs, and that's the easy part. Is the tank clean? Do you have any ammonia and nitrite? Are there dead areas in the tank?

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Can I kid nap this for another forum? (I'll give credit to you and such) This is very interesting!

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The same thing is true for pond pumps. Presumably the gallons per hour can be obtained by some method, but not anything that might occur in an actual pond -- no resistance, no lift, and very large tubing. The table associated with one pump I have says that you obtain the indicated gph using 1 inch tubing. The largest tubing you can attach to the pump directly is 5/8 inch.

You're generally OK if you get a pond pump that claims to deliver twice what you need. Testing is easy. Just set up the pump as you will use it, then put a container of known volume under the outflow and time how long it takes to fill it. From this you can calculate gallons per hour. For example, if the pump delivered 1 gallon in 30 seconds, that would be 2 gallons per minute and 2x60=120 gallons per hour. The box probably promised 250 gph.

It's not so easy with a HOB filter, but if you can put tubing on the intake tube and draw the water from a separate container, you can measure what comes out.

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I had been researching canister filters before purchasing one recently and wondered why some of these monsters didn't seem to pump much moe GPH than the HOBs with such large motors. Now it makes perfect sense. I wonder about some of the internals now, such as Flugals. I have about decided to go with canisters in my larger tanks. I am very pleased with the one I have got and it is rated at 265 gph. Much better than the HOB I had that was rated at 300.

Hi Denise,

Congrats on your new canister! I'm glad you see a difference in your larger tanks. I tend to think GPH is over rated in general and to often takes center stage over all the other elements that make up a good filter.You'll be able to add so much more media now and have better bacterial filtration too.

Thanks again for replying to the post :)

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Can I kid nap this for another forum? (I'll give credit to you and such) This is very interesting!

Glad you found the post interesting - it's better to link back to the post on Koko's it was written for here. This way you might bring new traffic to the forum and we end up with new members - I think all copying of posts should link back to the source. It's easier and it's good for Koko's,

Thanks.

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Wow, thanks for the info. I can't believe they can get away with out right lies! How sad, innocent people are trying to do the best they can for their loved pets and if they don't find a wonderful place like koko's and the knowledgeable people here, they fail or at minimum do harm to their pets and then be discouraged with this wonderful hobby. Just sad.

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Can I kid nap this for another forum? (I'll give credit to you and such) This is very interesting!

Glad you found the post interesting - it's better to link back to the post on Koko's it was written for here. This way you might bring new traffic to the forum and we end up with new members - I think all copying of posts should link back to the source. It's easier and it's good for Koko's,

Thanks.

Thats what I was going to, hence the "and such" =3

Thanks for posting this, and for letting me steal it ;)

Edited by Akari_32

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Great info, thanks for taking the time to post it.

Now, can you post the list of safe dog foods? I've got a pair of Queensland Heelers (Australian Cattle Dogs) who'd love to know....as would I.

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Very interesting post! I love reading this kind of stuff. It makes so much more sense now..... I didn't understand why my cansiter had a lower rating than a little HOB, when my canister can pump out water like crazy!

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After reading your post, I can't help but laugh at myself for trying to determine my filter's flow rate the other day by myself lol.

Basically, what I did was put a bowl underneath the filter output, and set a timer. I collected all the water that comes out for 5 seconds and measure it. After a bit of calculation, it came up to 160gph.

M filter is an AC50, with some sponge and biomax, set at maximum flow.

I thought it was pretty good since I bet the 200gph rating is without media, but now, I don't know anymore haha...

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It sounds like solid data to me.

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Great info Peter! I always like reading your posts. :)

What tools did your friend use to get GPH numbers? Does your friend have a professional flow rate meter? If so, maybe you could borrow it from her, and you could throw down some real world numbers for the good peeps at Kokos. :)

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I had been researching canister filters before purchasing one recently and wondered why some of these monsters didn't seem to pump much moe GPH than the HOBs with such large motors. Now it makes perfect sense. I wonder about some of the internals now, such as Flugals. I have about decided to go with canisters in my larger tanks. I am very pleased with the one I have got and it is rated at 265 gph. Much better than the HOB I had that was rated at 300.

Hi Denise,

Congrats on your new canister! I'm glad you see a difference in your larger tanks. I tend to think GPH is over rated in general and to often takes center stage over all the other elements that make up a good filter.You'll be able to add so much more media now and have better bacterial filtration too.

Thanks again for replying to the post :)

I was really interested the most because of the trays and adding the different media to it. I wanted to add more biological filtration and just couldn't do it with the HOB in the quanities I felt I needed. I am eventually going to put them on all the tanks and actually have one ordered for the 40 breeder that should be here tomorrow. I have a 55gal that I got for cheap that I haven't cleaned or set up yet that I will get one for too. I have spent to much money lately and it will have to wait. lol

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As an alternative to a $5,000 flow meter, I went with a low tech industrial flow meter:

http://www.bluwhite.com/products/VariableArea/F-550/XXX_TECH_F-550.pdf

which vary in cost:

http://www.bigbrandwater.com/flowmeter507.html

If anyone has any reviews on these type of meters, I would be interested in it.

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